Google is once again pushing the boundaries of AI, this time advertising an add-on that can ostensibly determine people’s optimal shirt sizes.
According to Gizmodo, Google’s “virtual try-on” feature will be available in the Shopping tab. While it won’t take specific measurements at this time, users will be able to select from 40 body types and sizes that span from XXS to 4XL in order to see how a specific style of shirt fits the body in question.
Google believes this feature will help customers pick shirt sizes that will best fit them in the future, and Gizmodo adds that Google claims the AI will effectively model “how clothes tend to drape, fold, stretch, or wrinkle” in practice as well.
This feature is available as of now, though Gizmodo reports that it is only usable with women’s tops for the time being. Eventually, Google’s goal is to have the virtual try-on feature plug into pretty much any clothing retail spot, naturally becoming available for male models (of which there would most likely also be 40 in similar sizes and poses) as well.
While the feature itself is promising, it’s currently restricted to a few clothing retailers (Gizmodo mentions H&M and LOFT as notable participants), and the models in use have some specific styling (e.g., tucked-in shirts) that cannot be edited by users. This is a baffling design choice since some consumers will undoubtedly be restricted to testing their shirts on one body type, leaving them with potentially inaccurate styling information.
Gizmodo also mentions that the AI cannot determine “how good a shirt is”, though one can only hope that reviews would be sufficient in taking care of that corner of the purchasing process.
Regardless of the hype, Google’s virtual try-on feels like most AI tools in general: good ideas in theory, but missing some critical pieces that would make them great. As this style of AI becomes more ubiquitous, it seems reasonable to hope that more customizable feedback, styling input, and options that are specifically suited to gender nonconforming wear will find their way into the final product.